The United Nations is releasing, for the first time in history, a cyber alert for “Flame,” a computer virus powerful enough to bring about a world cyber crisis.
This is the first time that cyberspace may need to accept the possibility of a cyber war. This week, the U.N. Computer Security Chief Marco Obispo admitted the need for a “most serious warning” for the virus, a sophisticated software “superbug” which has brought down most computers in Iran, having also afflicted computers in Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Lebanon and Egypt.
Reportedly 100x more powerful than any Trojan, “Flame” can worm its way into a computer system and transform infected machines into listening devices. It bypasses cyber security systems to activate even a computer audio system; from there it can hack Skype calls.
The virus is being studied and analyzed by Moscow’s Lab ZAO who can’t seem to figure it out except to say that “the complexity and the functionality of the newly discovered malicious programme exceed those of all other cyber menaces known to date.” Adding the consideration for a “trend of the future –cyber wars instead of conventional ones.”
“Flame” contains code that’s far more sophisticated than the Stuxnet Virus, which had attacked Iran’s uranium enrichment facility causing it to malfunction.
Russian based Kaspersky Lab hinted that Israel may be behind the creation of the virus but the Israeli Vice President Moshe Ayalon said: “Israel is a country blessed with high tech” neither admitting nor denying if its responsible for the mega virus.
Alan Woodward, a computer expert at the University of Surrey in the UK compared “Flame” to a Smartphone, explaining it can do “anything one wants, as long as you simply add the apps.” He admitted that he’s never seen anything as harmful as this virus before, comparing it to a vacuum cleaner that can quickly erase all data.
Iran has admitted a “mass data” loss, later putting all their computers on alert. Some Middle East countries, including Saudi Arabia did the same fearing if a “virus outbreak” is not controlled, it may lead to economic damage for the countries. The Middle East countries who were affected by the virus asked the United Nations for help when they discovered they had lost sensitive data. This prompted the United Nations to ask the help of Moscow in analyzing the virus.
An Israeli developer of information security, Idi Mokady, who heads Cyber Ark cited that “Flame” is a malicious malware that gathers information, swipes all data then brings it all back to the “master” or whoever is spreading the virus. He added that the virus is so sophisticated that only four countries would have the capability to develop it – they are China, Israel, USA and Russia. No word yet on a source or a fix.